A significant number of public and private organizations have been forced to adopt a remote training model for their employees. Because of the pandemic, there was no warning, preparation time or guide for how to train remote employees effectively or how to launch remote training.
If you’re worried about the success of remote training, you don’t have to be. Although online learning and remote training have their fair share of challenges, 95% of enterprise L&D leaders are surprised at how remote work has enhanced training programs. While 79% are convinced online learning produced better outcomes compared to in-person, 88% believe it opens up opportunities for more employees to participate.
In this article, we will share tips on how to launch remote employee training programs, including best practices for doing it quickly and efficiently.
There’s an increasing need for remote employee training
By 2025, the number of remote workers is expected to hit 36.2 million, double the number it was before the pandemic.
While some companies are switching to hybrid work, many companies like Google, Slack, and Spotify offer their employees the opportunity to work remotely indefinitely.
Besides, today’s workers are big on work-life balance, especially millennials. They are the most likely to accept pay cuts in exchange for more flexibility and freedom. It doesn’t have to come to that since remote work offers them that flexibility.
This rise in remote working requires companies to adapt quickly to this new work style. Therefore, a proper training mode must be set to prepare employees for a life in a remote work environment.
Why is it important to offer remote employee training?
It is important that remote employees are not isolated. They should see themselves as important arms of the organization.
You can demonstrate this by offering training programs to develop their skills and increase their productivity. Ultimately fostering employee loyalty and increasing retention rates.
Here are 5 benefits you can get from training your remote workforce:
1. Refreshes existing skills
How about upgrading their existing skills? Training doesn’t have to involve gaining new skills they never get the opportunity to use. You can organize learning sessions that help your remote employees refresh and update their rusty skills to the latest trends in the ever-changing world of work. You can even make the training personalized and engaging using online remote training software.
2. Increases employee engagement and retention
By now, you already know that L&D opportunities are part of the benefits potential employees are looking for in a job. Effective training helps talent grow and gain new skills. It also helps them achieve their personal and professional goals. This influences customer engagement and satisfaction in a positive way.
3. Ramps up new hire integration
New hires can integrate faster when you have detailed and organized onboarding training in place. With online training, new employees can access whatever materials they need to move into the process without disrupting workflows. Remote training also breaks down the distance barrier, allowing employees to access training from anywhere in the world.
4. Improves flexibility for a better employee experience
Remote training ensures more flexibility which is the future of work. Online training offers a self-paced, available, on-demand method for employees to manage training and workload. They can complete L&D opportunities on their own time without the added worry of neglecting work or HR struggling to gather whole teams in a room for the traditional training method.
5. Improves employee performance
Training employees means you can expect better business outcomes. Remote training means they can access tools for learning hard and soft skills they need to be more efficient and productive. They will eventually bring better results to the company.
What areas do remote employees need training on?
Training for remote workers is the same type they’d require in a physical office. However, there are some extra online learning perks your employees should be aware of. Telecommuting within a global organization might require they be aware of data protection, how to use async communication properly or etiquette for online meetings. This means training options will have to expand a bit to accommodate remote learning.
Below are 5 types of training you should offer remote employees:
1. Onboarding and coaching for new hires
A new employee needs to know what their specific role is and how it fits into the broader goal of the organization. With onboarding and coaching, they know their responsibilities and can easily fit in and not feel isolated. It should continue until they’re settled and have access to the right tools and how to use them. We outline how to include buddy programs during onboarding in a separate article.
2. Company culture orientation
Although physical interaction is almost impossible among remote employees, they should still have a feel of the company culture. A lack of one-on-ones can make it difficult to establish and promote a unified culture that involves the participation of all employees.
You can solve this by communicating the vision and values of the company through training that brings remote workers together. Make sure to include ways to promote and uphold the values in a way that makes them feel engaged and connected. Check out this article for more on cultural onboarding.
3. Cybersecurity training
It is essential that remote workers have training on ways to prevent loss of data and breaches when sending proprietary documents through an insecure network.
Not everyone likes the technical aspect of the business, but you can find fun ways to engage remote employees via cybersecurity training. Everyone should be on board as regards company policies related to cybersecurity.
They should also be aware of the risks of using public Wi-Fi or generally working online and ways to recognize and avoid suspicious links and phishing scams that can compromise company data and how to secure their email with DMARC.
4. Soft skills coaching
While it is hard to measure soft skills, they’re as important as technical skills for success in the workplace. They’re especially important if remote workers have leadership ambitions as team managers and people leaders.
Soft skills are essential for employees to thrive in a remote environment and should be open to everyone. Efficient time management, empathy, and leadership are a few examples of these vital skills.
5. Technical skills training
Employees need to stay in tune with current trends and the latest tech tools in their field. Training will help them get the in-demand skills so they can grow professionally and be promoted if space opens up.
That way you can retain talent and achieve employee satisfaction. Hard or technical upskilling also helps you close the skill gaps in the organization and prepare employees to fill new roles and senior positions instead of looking for new recruits. It encompasses specific skills like data analytics, coding or new software.
What are the challenges of remote employee training?
There is more to online training for remote employees than just showing some slides and promising them a copy afterwards. How do you engage them, avoid technical issues and measure success? Below, we explore 6 challenges facing remote workers.
Lack of physical interaction
Remote work is generally affected by the absence of social or physical interaction. However, it can become even more apparent in remote training sessions. Especially if the switch from a physical to an online model is recent. It takes a while to adjust to the new method.
There is no way to 100% guarantee that remote staff will pay attention during online training. Trainers also worry that their trainees won’t put in as much effort as they would in a physical class. Many learners are equally unused to virtual training and struggle to maintain their composure and communicate in class.
Inability to maintain Cybersecurity standards
Not everyone is tech-savvy or aware of how important maintaining cybersecurity is. That is why it is important to train remote employees in this aspect—considering that they will be working online.
Companies should ensure employees follow security best practices. They should avoid sharing company-sensitive information over email and business communication channels. The same thing applies to training that is copyright protected. It shouldn’t be shared with unauthorized persons within and outside the company.
Limited information/total lack of access to information
Remote employees are often faced with a lack of or limited access to information. Unlike a physical office where you can always work up to the right person for more information, a remote environment is even more challenging.
For remote training, employees often have to navigate a new learning system and its use on their own. This can slow down training or even cause morale for earning to decrease. It is best to provide information on the scheduled time, and platform, and provide some informational resources before training commences.
While there are some perks of remote working jobs, isolation and loneliness remain the most prominent complaints employees have while working from home.
People miss the social interaction, banter, and connections they usually make in an office space. For those cases, you can do like HelloRache, which has a social community on Facebook with 28 thousand members. Where each of them can share, help each other, and feel a greater sense of belonging.
Additionally, with an influx of new employees, it could often feel like they are working with a group of strangers, making the situation even more strenuous.
The office is where people can come and be solely focused on work. However, in a remote working environment where people work from home, many different factors and distractions come into play. Working parents, especially, find it hard to balance work and child care and are often unable to separate the two.
Unlike physical training, remote employee training poses a lot of technical challenges—for example, unexpected internet connections, software issues, and malfunctioning training tools.
While there is no way to prevent any of these issues from happening, it's possible to take all measures to be as prepared as possible to tackle difficulties when they occur.
The tools and methods for effective remote employee training
Thankfully, we’re in the technological era with lots of software/tools to choose from. The specific learning model you use depends on your needs. Either way, ensure you adopt a continuous learning pattern that is sustainable. Here are some tools and methods that will help you deliver a seamless and effective online learning program.
Once you decide on the mode of learning, platforms like Microsoft teams, Google Meet or alternatives like Zoom, Zoho or Livestorm are video conferencing tools with other features you can use for your learning sessions. Also, Larksuite and GoToMeeting are virtual learning platforms specifically designed for remote learners.
This is a self-paced type of learning where participants access contents, assessments and all other activities in their own time. Asynchronous learning can be operated without an instructor. All that is required of learners is results in the form of the status of completion, score or assessment before a specified deadline.
Synchronous learning involves all learners participating at the same time. Usually,` it is led by an instructor and is time-bound. It is carefully planned so all participants can attend at the same time or learners book a particular time slot based on their availability.
This can have a mix of asynchronous and synchronous learning models to give a customized solution. Due to its flexibility, blended learning may be preferred for complex remote training requirements. It can be incorporated into a Learning Management System (LMS) that includes an eLearning outline and an online class session.
E-learning management systems (LMS)
You can invest in an LMS to manage your online training programs. This is especially important for asynchronous learning which doesn’t involve an instructor being present. Employees can access materials, and take the graded assessments within a set period. TalentLMS, 360Learning, iSpring learn and SAP Litmos are some popular LMS solutions.
Process documentation tools
Asana, Trello and Favro are project management tools you can repurpose for process documentation. You can manage, track and monitor the progress of remote workers. You can use these tools to set milestones and deadlines. Google Drive, Google Docs and One Drive can also help you stay organized and manage access to all virtual training material and resources.
7 additional tips for effective & engaging remote employee training
Although remote training can pose a challenge, it's easy to navigate through if you have the right resources. That is why we've put together some more tips to help you train your remote teams more effectively.
Pair employees with mentors
What does mentorship have to do with training employees? A lot. The 70-20-10 learning framework states that only 10% of our learning comes from individual study or courses. The rest comes from direct experience and collaborating with others. Mentors are critical to learning and development because they make what we learn more relevant and tangible. if you’re training to become a better sales rep, having a mentor to shadow or listen in on a call is invaluable. They’ll coach you through what you need to improve on and be a role model for you. You’re not just trying to learn a new skill, you’re trying to be like them. And that is incredibly powerful for learning.
Here’s a short guide on starting a remote mentorship program or virtual mentoring.
Experiment with different training formats
Every company is different. Therefore, the same training method might not work for everyone. The best way to go about this is to experiment with different formats and see which one works best for your business.
For example, you can test live Q&A-based sessions and see which ones your employees are more comfortable with. Additionally, try to experiment with different training styles, such as
- Video sessions
- Audio sessions
Pay close attention to which format and style employees respond to and plan their training to cater to their specific needs. The key is to keep them engaged, which should be the focus of your training style.
Make training accessible
Many people working from home are parents and have to balance parenting and working simultaneously. To be more accommodating, make your training sessions mobile-friendly, so employees don't have to be glued to a computer screen all the time.
Additionally, if the training is offline-based (video/audio presentations), they can complete training in their own time, even outside of work. It's essential to make training as easy and accessible as possible to ensure new recruits grasp every detail.
While in-depth training is necessary, wherever possible, try to divide the sessions into small bits of information so employees don't feel overwhelmed by the sudden load of new information.
These small portions of the training are highly effective for work-from-home employees who balance different household tasks.
Screen time isn't the goal
One of the biggest mistakes many companies make regarding remote working is confusing more screen time for productivity. Employers worry that if people aren't glued to their screens, they aren't working.
While this approach might have made sense in a physical office, the same cannot be applied to employee training in a remote setup. Instead, try to encourage a more goal-oriented approach. As long as employees meet all of their goals and deadlines, the amount of time they spend on their screens is irrelevant.
Incorporate process documentation
In a remote work system where you are dealing with new employees or virtual executive assistants you haven't physically interacted with before, it can be challenging to keep track of who has undergone training and who hasn't.
Documenting helps employers keep a detailed record of employees' training and streamlines the process making for consistency in future employees. Use process documentation tools like Notion, ClickUp, Scribe, etc.
Encourage a culture of interaction and connection
Employers need to note that remote work is different from the traditional office culture. People don't have the opportunity to have face-to-face contact, which can often lead to loneliness and isolation.
Therefore, training should include and encourage a culture of interaction even in a remote environment. While it may not be possible to meet and socialize with fellow workers physically, you can organize virtual events, meetings, and other social activities to ensure a good relationship among your employees. That will make them less hesitant to reach out to each other when they need help.
As remote and hybrid work models will continue to grow in popularity, leaders must step up and prepare for the changing work environment. There are lots of resources that can help you manage challenges, and support and develop your remote employees. Be better prepared for challenges by acquiring remote training strategies as leaders. These skills will help you attract and retain top talents regardless of their location.